Collectively, today has required the most thinking and participation so far. I'll admit, today, I went into the meeting a little skeptical at how much would get accomplished. By our closing devotion, we had 5 focus areas and individual priority areas under those focus areas for the next 5 years (next Quadrennium + 2016 for you church nerds out there).
The five focus areas for the IMUM (United Methodist Church in Mozambique) are:
1) Leadership Development
2) Congregational Development
3) Ministry with the poor
5) Institutional Development
For the Mozambique Initiative, these will guide our work with our partners. We will have the opportunity to work within these focus areas while growing and adapting our ministry together.
For context - let me discuss an example of these:
1. Leadership Development: MI supports the Gondola Training Center and Primary Schools. Potential MI growth here could be with the assistance of enhancing laity and pastoral training or with the launch of the Mozambique United Methodist Church University.
2. Congregational Development: MI supports salary grants, construction projects of chapels and parsonages
3. Ministry with the Poor: Whether assistance of Hanhane Women's Shelter, the Carolyn Belshe Orphanage, or safe water projects -- these all are a part of this plan.
4. Health: This is a growth area for MI. We haven't been able to fully engage in this. I'm excited here. The Church wants to engage in difficult cultural conversations such as education of prevention of diseases (HIV/AIDS), malaria, tuberculosis, but also of addressing domestic violence, early marriages, and sex education for teen pregnancy prevention. This involves training pastors and lay people throughout the country at local levels. Also included here is the work of the Chicuque Rural Hospital.
5. Institutional Development: This is another growth area. Ministries here include disaster preparedness and microfinance projects.
Now that you have some context - each partner verbally renewed commitment to the Mozambique Methodist Church and to sharing knowledge. Each Annual Conference and interest group has priorities of their own. For those of you in Missouri, a preview of my "to do" list of discussion items includes a women's dorm at Gondola, a safe water well at the Dondo Orphanage, an MOU agreement with the Mozambicans regarding emergency preparedness funding, microfinance discussions, and ideas of how we can expand and grow our partnership in the health area.
A few general observations from the last few days include: Missouri's partnership with the Mozambique church is unique from other conferences in three main ways. First, we are the most diverse in our 'portfolio' of ways in which we partner. MI is also the most widely spread within Mozambique -- from Maputo to Cambine to Gondola and the Tete province. Lastly, Missouri's partnership is widely relational at the local church and individual worshiper level. Other UM partners have different strategies, focus areas, and priorities -- and that's perfectly okay!
Mozambique's Annual Conference has great leaders. Together, we are stronger than individually -- and this Roundtable proved that. We all have quirks, cultural differences, and even different strategies for judging success. But when the Holy Spirit is present -- good things happen. And they did today.
Personally, I'm feeling strong. Tomorrow is a relatively low-key day. Ezy and I will be visiting with a few folks in their Annual Conference Office and then I will rest. Our journey across Mozambique begins Saturday where we will drive to Massinga. Sunday can't come soon enough -- worshiping in Mozambique. Yes. Mix a passion filled worship experience here with getting to visit the Ngongane Primary School (Manchester UMC) mean it's going to be a fun weekend.
I'll likely post something tomorrow. Then, my internet capabilities will be spotty -- which I'm both excited for. I'm excited to stop the temptation of reading the social media drama of back home on the unrest. I'm ready to depart Maputo and experience rural Mozambique again. The hustle and bustle is not much different from home. Rural Mozambique, I'm ready.
For those of you playing I-Spy and can't spy Jeff Baker...it's because he's taking these pictures. :) The New York Annual Conference has participation online by multiple folks as well. :)